Venezuela’s Economy Grows by 5.5 Percent in 2012
Chris Carlson (Venezuelanalysis) – Venezuela’s economy grew by 5.5 percent in 2012, fuelled largely by public spending and government housing programs, according to statistics released yesterday by Venezuela’s central bank.
The 5.5 percent growth in gross domestic product makes for 9 consecutive quarters of growth, higher than the 4.8 percent growth reported for 2011, and higher than the 5 percent growth forecast by the government.
A heavy push by the government to construct hundreds of thousands of homes in 2012 created a growth of 16.8 percent in construction, whereas government services expanded 5.2 percent, according to preliminary figures.
Commerce grew by 9.2 percent and communications by 7.2 percent, whereas manufacturing grew by only 2.1 percent, and the oil sector grew by 1.4 percent.
“We are above what we had forecast, even as the world is submerged in a crisis,” said central bank president Nelson Merentes.
Statistics released from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) also showed that unemployment had decreased to 6.4 percent, while formal employment had grown from 48 percent to 57 percent of total employment.
“Informal employment has continued to decrease from 51 percent to 42.5 percent, and around three million new formal jobs have been created during this period,” said INE president Elías Eljuri.
Some analysts have predicted that the Venezuelan economy could be hit hard in 2013 as the state is forced to devalue the currency and reduce spending from 2012.
However, government officials have forecasted 6 percent growth for 2013, and assure that the economy is entering a period of consolidated growth.
“The negative events of the economy are behind us. We have entered a stage of growth, and we are among the five fastest growing economies in Latin America,” said finance minister Jorge Giordani.
Officials did not make any mention of a devaluation of the currency, but said that those kinds of adjustments are not announced beforehand.
According to calculations by Bank of America, Venezuela’s fiscal deficit for 2012 is around 8.8 percent of GDP, much lower than the 20 percent number that has been circulating among opposition sources and used to criticize government spending.